A Slice of Eden

<< Back to Robb Report, November 2014
  • Samantha Brooks

A St. Barts insider simplifies the complex path to vacation-home ownership.

Remote, exclusive, and largely French, St. Barts has long reigned as the Caribbean’s most glamorous destination. But the idyllic island can prove to be a nightmare for people looking to acquire a vacation home. Barriers to ownership on the 8.1-square-mile stretch range from limited inventory and complicated planning regulations to costly construction and maintenance fees. Addressing these real estate roadblocks—and guiding potential buyers through the entire process—is the raison d’être of an inclusive new service from the owner of one of the island’s most exclusive resorts. 

“After being on the island for the last two decades, we discovered a void in services for homeowners here,” says David Matthews, a British entrepreneur who, along with his wife, Jane, purchased the Eden Rock Hotel on St. Jean beach in 1995. Matthews has spent nearly two decades upgrading, expanding, and renovating the Oetker Collection resort and knows well the challenges associated with owning and developing property on the French West Indies isle. “We’ve built the equivalent of 24 new house spaces here, which has given us a lot of knowledge about building high-quality structures on a small island while managing costs and budgets.” 

Matthews’s Propco St. Barths, which he launched earlier this year, is a design and development firm that specializes in property acquisition, construction, and management on St. Barts. The company’s services include securing permits, commissioning interior designers and architects, overseeing the build process, and negotiating sales and rentals. The firm’s connections—it employs local partners and contractors for all stages of vacation-home purchases and new builds—offer an inside track through St. Barts’s complex real estate system. “We know the local artisans, tradesmen, and suppliers,” Matthews says, “as well as the political ins and outs of the island.” 

Propco’s current projects include a five-bedroom hillside villa, a loft-style home in Gustavia, and a luxury beach retreat on Flamands Beach—one of St. Barts’s most notoriously difficult stretches on which to purchase real estate. In each case, the team acquired the land, assisted in the design phases, submitted plans for approval, and worked with local companies to ensure time- and cost-efficient construction. 

Propco also offers its clients a range of options for property maintenance and rental management. The services complete a start-to-finish solution that Matthews hopes can turn a potential nightmare into a hassle-free dream home. “In short,” he says, “we’re taking the complications out of everything.”  
 
Propco St. Barths, +590.590.27.29.92, propcostbarths.com

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